Bitcoin is a decentralized network for direct value transfer (peer-to-peer). The concept was designed in 2008 by an unkown group or individual under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. The Bitcoin white paper, which was distributed in October 2008, contained a description of the implementation of a digital currency based on blockchain technology. It describes a payment system in which its participants can transfer values peer to peer without the help of an intermediary. The technological basis was a complex combination of several already developed components, which were necessary for the creation of a payment system. The combination of these components solved a fundamental IT problem that had previously prevented a software-based payment system (see: double spending). A cryptographic puzzle called Proof-of-Work made it possible to check and process payments without a central authority. All transactions are kept on independent computers in a distributed public accounting system.
As the oldest and most important cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization, Bitcoin today a censorship-resistant, decentralised peer-to-peer payment processing network with a limited supply. Its base layer value transfer resembles that of gold, which is why Bitcoin is sometimes also called digital gold. On top of the base layer protocol, there is a second layer protocol called Lightning, which allows for much cheaper and faster transactions.